DP14391 Democratic Support for the Bolshevik Revolution: An Empirical Investigation of 1917 Constituent Assembly Elections

Author(s): Castaneda Dower, Andrei Markevich
Publication Date: February 2020
Keyword(s): Communism, elections, Regime Change, Revolution, Russia
JEL(s): D72, H7, N44, P26
Programme Areas: Economic History
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=14391

Scholars have long-debated the causes of the Russian Revolution. We systematically investigate the role of key factors in these debates by exploiting cross-district variation in Bolsheviks' popular support in 1917. We analyze voting outcomes of the Constituent Assembly elections, which occurred right after the Bolsheviks seized power. We find that the Bolsheviks mobilized greater support in districts with a larger share of industrial workers, a greater presence of historically private land, which the Bolsheviks redistributed to peasants, and in districts with garrisons and military hospitals. We also provide evidence that the underpinnings of this support conflicted with the Bolsheviks' development strategy, forewarning the autocratic command economy to come.